The problem with headlines…

The problem with headlines…

Friday, August 10, 2012
Lynn Duffy

…is the headline!

In a world of instant gratification, spoiler alerts on news sites, spoiler headlines when you are trying to time-shift the Olympics, headlines can often lead us to believe that’s the end of the story. A good headline can lead us to believe that we know the ‘guts’ of a story, without reading the substance. Consider this recent headline:

“Study: Google Pricier than YP per Call” (Mediapost).

Many people have now been led to believe that Google is in fact pricier than YP.COM ( Is this the case? In the study cited above, yes.

However, there are legitimate flags to be raised when looking more in detail at this study and its subsequent whitepaper. Seasonality, study length and sample size are the immediate concerns with this study given the sweeping statement it makes. Furthermore, competitive landscape and cost/call benchmarks are not discussed. A deeper concern is the sole focus on cost/call as the metric of success. In the online world of metrics, there are numerous key performance indicators (KPIs) that speak to the success or failure of any given media campaign.

As media-agnostic players, DAC knows that cost/call is often hard to compare across media platforms – even online media platforms. A better metric would be to look at them in comparison with benchmark cost/call targets to determine return on investment. While cost/call may be lower on YP.COM for some of the advertisers in this study, Altman Vilandrie & Company acknowledge later in the white paper that volume is also a consideration when developing a media strategy and that “it may not be possible for an advertiser to meet its goals by placing ads solely with YPSM ads.” They further go on to state the additional considerations:

  • A multi-pronged campaign using multiple advertising channels may be required for those seeking to strike a balance between volume and cost.
  • Cost-per-call can vary dramatically by advertiser and medium
  • Cost-per-call does not by itself provide all the information needed to evaluate advertising return on investment (ROI).

Again, if we were just reading the headline, we wouldn’t have this point of view. A holistic look at any advertising campaign is the best way to measure its effectiveness. This means looking at all KPIs (i.e. cost/call, cost/click, cost/acquisition, impressions, etc) and, more importantly, conversion across these metrics. After all, if you don’t convert your leads, then cost per call is really not all that interesting at the end of the day.

For DAC, the bottom line is always: test, measure, allocate, and repeat. We always do this with conversion in mind based on an entire suite of KPIs – not just cost per call.